Melissa Charenko

Position title: William Coleman Dissertation Fellow (2017-2018)

History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, UW-Madison

Portrait image of Melissa Charenko outdoors

Science as Prophecy: A History of Paleo Perspectives on Environmental Change

My work explores the development of ecological ideas and techniques used to understand the changing dynamics of human-environment interactions over the last 12,000 years. I am particularly interested in the meanings and lessons that ecologists drew from this work, especially their proposals to use the deep past to address the present and future threat of anthropogenic environmental change. Yet this desire to create a “science of prophecy” did not always match the capabilities of methods in paleoecology. My work explores how these methodological limitations were used to challenge ecologists and their policy suggestions.

Melissa Charenko is a PhD Candidate in the History of Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on deep time and the ecological sciences, approaching these topics using methods in history of science and environmental history. Melissa’s work has been supported by the Consortium for the History and Philosophy of Science, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and a predoctoral fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. She received an MA from the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Toronto.